History of the United States of America: Social Struggles and Foreign Policy

A brief history of the United States of America: social conflicts between peasants and workers, the formation of the Populist Party and American foreign policy in the late 1800s


William McKinley: the 25th president of the United States of America, from 1897 to 1901. – Source: Getty-Images

The accelerated pace of industrialization and the rapid spread of financial and industrial capitalism were at the origin of social conflicts that saw peasants and workers as protagonists . In the western countryside, the pressure to which small independent farmers ( farmers ) were subjected by the expansion of large capitalist companies triggered a series of violent protests, which resulted in the formation of the People’s Party . It was a party that wanted to protect the interests of farmers, but at the same time knew how to welcome the demands and hopes of the working class, allying itself to the American Federation of Labor., the great trade union confederation founded in 1886. The Populist Party’s moment of greatest influence was in the elections of 1896, in which candidate William Jennings Bryan allied himself with the Democrats on the basis of a program aimed at reducing the land monopoly, to a strict “antitrust” legislation and greater tax fairness.
The defeat suffered by the republican William McKinley marked the crisis of the populist movement and the triumph of the values ​​of capitalism

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From the disruptive growth of production and from the processes of capitalist concentration, imperialist pressures emerged similar to those that justified the contemporary colonization of Africa , operated by the European powers. However , American imperialism , unlike European imperialism , was not oriented towards the military occupation of extra-national spaces or their direct control, rather relying on indirect forms of conditioning . It was the McKinley presidency who inaugurated a foreign policy consistent with these premises: in 1898 , after the sinking of an American battleship in Havana,the United States waged war on Spain by supporting an anti-colonial Cuban movement . Spain’s rapid defeat allowed Cuba to become independent and the United States to strengthen its presence on the island. Having simultaneously obtained Puerto Rico and the Philippines and annexed the Hawaiian Islands, the Americans in a very short time carved out a great space of hegemony, applying to exercise a role of world power .


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